Commuting in Canada – The proportion of people working 25 kilometres (km) or more from the city centre is increasing

Using data from the 1996 and 2016 Census of Population, this study examines the geographic location of jobs, people’s commute and how they have changed over time. The commuting patterns for Canada’s eight largest census metropolitan areas (CMAs)—Toronto, Montréal, Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa–Gatineau, Edmonton, Québec and Winnipeg—are compared.

  • Since 1996, jobs have been moving away from the city centre in large metropolitan areas. In Toronto, for example, the proportion of people working 25 kilometres (km) or more from the city centre increased from 20% in 1996 to 26% in 2016. As a result, the average distance from place of work to city centre increased in the eight largest CMAs.
  • Over the past two decades, the number of car commuters in the city core declined in the eight largest CMAs. Montréal had the largest decline in the number of car users who worked within 5 km of the city centre, declining by 28% (representing 62,900 commuters).
  • All eight CMAs have experienced changes in commuting patterns. The proportion of commuters doing the traditional commute (from a suburb to the city core) increased, as did the proportion of suburban commuters (within a suburb, or from one suburb to another suburb) and reverse commuters (from the city core to a suburb).
  • Among traditional commuters, the proportion of public transit commuters increased in all eight CMAs. Montréal had the largest increase in the proportion of traditional commuters taking public transit to work, from 38% in 1996 to 55% in 2016. Vancouver and Toronto saw similar growth.

Among those who work and live in the city core, the proportion of those who use active modes of transportation (such as walking and biking) increased—from 19% to 47% in Toronto, from 16% to 38% in Montréal, from 15% to 38% in Calgary, from 17% to 39% in Vancouver and from 22% to 42% in Ottawa-Gatineau.


Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at Results from the 2016 Census: Commuting within Canada’s largest cities

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